Google’s big change to mobile search, enhanced campaigns, so far has generated mixed reviews. The enhanced campaigns will be available as an optional upgrade later this month, then all AdWords campaigns will be automatically upgraded to the new format by around June. This affects all PPC advertisers.
Here’s what you need to know about upgrading to enhanced campaigns.
Mobile PPC Gets Easier – But With Some Loss of Control
Enhanced campaigns are a bid on Google’s part to increase adoption of mobile advertising. I estimate that currently less than 5 percent of SMBs are leveraging a mobile ad strategy. This is a big problem for Google, because mobile search is growing exponentially, now accounting for nearly half of all searches.
With enhanced campaigns, advertising on mobile becomes as simple as checking a box. If you don’t want to mess around too much with mobile optimization, Google will determine a mobile bid for you and display it when appropriate, based on device.
However, there’s usually a tradeoff between ease of use and control. In making mobile campaign management simpler and more accessible, Google has removed some of the more granular controls that advertisers previously had.
For example, with enhanced campaigns, you can create desktop-only campaigns, but you can’t create mobile-only campaigns. Previously, you could do both.
This is a win for the vast majority of PPC advertisers who weren’t leveraging these features, but some “power users” of AdWords (agencies, for example) will probably find the change frustrating.
How to Set Your Mobile Bid Adjustment Factor
Currently, AdWords campaigns support a bid adjustments based on time of day (for example, you can bid down during hours when your store will be closed). Google is expanding on this concept and including new bid adjustment options for location as well as device. Rather than having to create separate geo-targeted and mobile-specific campaigns, you can now do that all in one campaign.
In legacy campaigns that targeted multiple devices, Google automatically adjusted your bid for mobile devices. In enhanced campaigns, Google’s automatic bid adjustment is disabled and instead you as the advertiser are responsible for your mobile bid adjustments.
One thing you will need to do when migrating to the new enhanced campaigns is set your mobile bid adjustment factor to specify how much more or less you’d like to bid for mobile searches. The range is between -100 and 300 percent. It will look something like this:
To set the percentage value, it is recommended that you regularly look at your campaign goals and results, and change your mobile bid adjustment as needed. This is an iterative process so let your campaigns run for a few days and then check back to see if the adjustment you set is giving you the results you desire.
Mobile CPCs Will Go Up
Aside from increasing adoption of mobile advertising, Google is making this change to close the cost-per-click gap between mobile and desktop.
On an earnings call last month, Google CEO Larry Page said, “I am very, very optimistic ... I think that [mobile] CPCs will improve … I mentioned that we are working to simplify our ad system for advertisers. In the light of all these changes and I am excited about our plans there.”
Of course by “improve” he means “go up” – which is great for GOOG but not so great for you, the advertiser. If you were already advertising on mobile and had been enjoying low CPCs, get ready for increased competition in that area.
Mobile Reporting Fees Are Going Away
Previously, Google had made some advanced call reporting features available, like the ability to see what phone numbers called, when, and how long the call lasted. Bizarrely, they actually charged advertisers a dollar extra per call to use these features. This was obviously counterproductive to their goals, because it acted as a disincentive for marketers to adopt mobile search features!
Going forward, Google is dumping the extra mobile call reporting fee, which will hopefully help incent all advertisers to take advantage of advanced call metrics and reporting as much as possible.
You Absolutely Have to Upgrade by Mid-Year
Whether or not you think Enhanced Campaigns are an improvement over the current system, you will need to upgrade by mid-year (June or so). At that time Google will automatically migrate all accounts to the new structure.
Depending on the current state of your campaigns, here’s what your upgrade path will look like:
- If you’re like the vast majority of advertisers and you never bothered with separating your campaigns into different experiences for desktop vs. mobile – then you’re in luck! Your upgrade path is pretty straightforward. You just need to set your mobile bid adjustment factor.
- If you’ve previously created a desktop-only campaign, then by default it will be upgraded to run across both desktop and mobile devices, and Google will automatically set a non-zero initial mobile bid adjustment factor on your behalf.
- If you’ve previously created a mobile-only campaign, then by default it will be upgraded to go across mobile and desktop, and they’ll set an initial bid adjustment factor for you.
- If you had previously made copies of the same campaign – one for desktop, and one for mobile – then you'll need to merge those back together into one.